Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What a week!

Wow, where do I begin? So much to talk about and it is only Tuesday!

Let's start with the debate! I think the YouTube thing was a fabulous idea. They succeeded in bringing a national town hall meeting to a room in South Carolina. I am sure that CNN was flooded with questions and I am not jealous of the person who had to wade through hours of 30 second videos to choose the most pragmatic of the bunch. As a technology freak, I can totally rally behind using today's technology to inspire more Americans to be more involved in the election process. Hillary looked great, Obama showed his growing pains.........and who was that old guy on the end? Gravel something? Honestly.....they could have clipped two people from each side of the stage and we really would have had a more lively debate with more YouTube questions!

Drew Carey......come on down?!! Whoa......totally surprised me on that one but I guess a comedian is the best person to fill Bob's shoes. I am sure that CBS was particularly antsy to fill its daytime slot with something other than Bob's reruns. I just don't know if Drew is the kind of guy you fall all over. Maybe the old ladies will rush the stage to kiss Drew but I kinda doubt that he will get the same reception from the younger crowd. But then again.....ya never know. This was probably the best choice to fill a difficult position.

Calling all cars....Calling all cars......Lindsey Lohan is on the loose again! I honestly thought that this merry-go-round had stopped once she disappeared into rehab. She never fails to disappoint. She has been arrested again for drunk driving and it looks like she had a little cocaine with her this time. I really do feel sorry for her because she obviously has no one close that has half a mind to bring this train wreck to a screeching halt. It simply keeps getting worse and worse. Paris darling.........ring up Lindsey and fill her in on the latest prison fashion!

Barry Bonds. Ok.......we know he is going to break this record. Do I care? No....I don't. The main reason and the only reason is because he is tainted. No matter if he admits it or not......the record means nothing to most Americans outside of San Francisco. This is a guy who could be swimming in endorsements but corporate America won't even touch him because of the steroid allegations. Throw in his award winning personality and why would you want to celebrate this accomplishment? It's a tough day in baseball but it will survive just as it has survived all of the other mishaps along the way. We in Cincinnati have one of our own - Pete Rose.

And on a happier note...........the NFL began training camps this week! YAY!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Muggles All A Twitter

I cheated. I read the spoilers. I know who lives, who dies in the latest Harry Potter tome. And I'll probably still read it.

When I was a kid, reading a book -- any book -- was my preferred way to spend a morning, noon or night. I'm convinced that reading Little Women at least twice a year between the ages of 9 and 15 should get me some sort of record. I even recall being disappointed when Little House on the Prairie appeared on television, and the rolling hills and trees looked suspiciously more like California than the vast stretches of prairie described in the books I'd read. Not just the one book, but the entire series, and most of the books more than once.

What those books, and the dozens if not hundreds of others I devoured, did for me a therapist would likely have a field day decoding. For a start, they expanded my horizons beyond small-town Mid-West reality. They taught me to ask questions. They taught me to use my imagination.

When I discovered Harry and his pals five or six years ago I was hooked. J.K. Rowling's oh-so-richly created wizarding world jump started my imagination -- who doesn't need that from time to time? I think I read the first two or three books in about a week during a particularly trying summer.

I chuckle first, then get downright annoyed when I hear Rowling's critics claim the books lead young readers to the occult, or trivialize the battle between good and evil. So some kids are wearing capes and waiting for owls to deliver mail; at least they're reading. And asking questions. And imagining.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Equal partnership

Let's pretend for just a moment that the gay & lesbian marriage and/or civil unions already exist in every state. We no longer have to worry about having equal treatment in our long term relationships. We all share the full legal privileges under the law just as any other heterosexual couple.

What would be the next issue that compels you to vote? What choices would you make in a candidate and what would they need to represent for you to vote for them? Would you vote Republican? Or does the Democratic party continue to uphold the ideals that you hold dear?

For many of us who live in U.S. states that continue to resist granting civil unions or domestic partnership benefits, it is the main issue that compels us to go to the polls. It is interesting to engage in conversation with folks who live in states where such benefits already exist. Some continue to vote Democratic and yet some are swayed by a more conservative standpoint.

I guess there should be some amount of apprehension when you live in a state where by law you are protected. As we have seen in some states, equality can come and go in an instant. Your vote four years ago can have quite a different outcome at the next election. Nothing is guaranteed.

So......here we are.....living in the perfect world........what is the next issue that compels you to vote?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Great Gas Crisis

Despite our political differences, there is one thing that most Americans can agree upon. The gas prices really suck. Here in the Cincinnati Tri-state area the gas prices can range anywhere from 2.99 to 3.21. If you are lucky, you can fill up for 10 to 15 cents less at one of the gas stations connected to a local grocery store chain if you swipe your grocery card.

I am one of the lucky ones who has an automobile that can run on ethanol or regular unleaded. There aren't too many stations offering ethanol but I went ahead and tried it anyway because it was at least 25 cents (or more) cheaper than regular gasoline. How can you beat that right?

Well....during the two weeks that I used it, I found that I was actually filling up more often than I was before. It seems that ethanol has a funny little kickback that while you are saving the environment you are actually consuming twice the amount you normally would if you had chosen regular gasoline. So ultimately that squashed all of the "I am going green" feelings that I had by fueling up with it. I must admit it did smell better than the other stuff.

In August 2005, I blogged that gas prices were 2.55 a gallon and that was with my 10 cent discount. I guess we really can't complain too much since we are really not too far away from that price today. Back then I would have expected us to be at 4.00 a gallon by now. Thankfully we have not reached that plateau.

I heard this morning that the gas companies are, once again, in the top 10 revenue/profit generating companies in the U.S. With no one pushing them to build more refineries, they have lots of money left over every year because gas prices continue to stay elevated. I have to ask myself...........if someone had a proposal to build just five new refineries in the U.S. and those new refineries would mean lower gas prices........would I want one built in my neighborhood?

I don't know if I am inconvenienced enough to say "yes" to that question. What about you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pope Benedict - King of the Catholics

Ahhhh yes......the Vatican declared today that the Catholic Church is the one true church and the only church that is a full church of Jesus Christ. The other churches.......well....they are only secondary entities. According to the Vatican and Pope Benedict, if they can't recognize the papacy of "The Pope"......they are wounded. They are limping around with no real reason to exist.

I wish I was joking about this self-righteous comment but if you look at Reuters.com and search for Christians...........you will find the whole ugly story.

Gone are the days of saintly Pope John Paul.....the friend to all people of all religions. The same Pope who had open dialogue with all faiths in ecumenical councils without a biased word one way or another. Granted..........there are many opinions and facts about the Catholic faith......but Pope John Paul seemed to be a kindlier, gentler soul.

Ok....let's come back to reality with Pope Benedict. He believes that even with his edict today that the Catholic Church is determined to maintain dialogues with other Christians. Wow.....who is likely to believe that any conversation with the Vatican is going to go well or come without any preconceived ideas? Who will want to talk to him?

Today, "The Church" has slipped even farther back into the middle ages. The belt has been tightened and a clear signal has been sent that there will be no more wishy-washy, gentler, kinder souls hanging around the Vatican.

I am sure that he is only warming up. His arrogance will be his downfall.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Take two of these..............

According to CNN.com today - the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.

Wait.....it gets better. They go on to say that the doctors think that is good news because it is a sign that Americans are more comfortable asking for help with their psychiatric problems.

Apparently antidepressant sales rose 48% between 1995 and 2002. Hmmm.......let's see Dubya was voted into office in 2000.........interesting. But.....I digress.

In this day and age, therapy is the hip thing to do. Hip.....but not cheap. I would imagine that along with all that advice there are a lot of prescriptions being handed out. So what does this say about us? I don't believe that the antidepressant statistic is one to be bragged about.

Now I am not saying that there are folks who have a truly legitimate need for such medication, I just have to wonder if there are truly 100 million of us out there. Is it simply a panacea or are we truly a depressed nation? Are there folks who need the medication or simply being medicated because its easier for the physician?

We live in an age where a doctors visit is like a trip to the local deli counter. Take a number from the machine and the doctor will see you in about 30 minutes. Quick in and quick out........ Rapid solutions for a rapid world.......Presto chango - here is your diagnosis......stop by Walgreens on your way home.........have a nice day.

For those of you wondering.......the second highest medication prescribed in the U.S. is for blood pressure medication. So perhaps there is a linkage to Dubya being in office after all........

Ta Ta!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Independence Day

As we approach yet another 4th of July holiday, we will once again be reminded about our brave soldiers overseas and the thousands of men and women who have died serving our country and protecting our freedoms.

Despite the fact that I am one of the 70% of all Americans who are against the war in Iraq, I have to give credit where credit is due to those Americans who are brave enough to go down to a military office and volunteer to serve under this new world reality. I mean.....who would want to do that in these times? I think it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to stand up and volunteer after watching daily war coverage on any of the news networks. I do know that volunteers have slowed down primarily because of the Iraq situation, but slow down doesn't mean new enlistments have come to a screeching halt.

I don't think I would have been able to make the same decision 23 years ago but then, in 1984 we were not facing the same threats as today. I think the idea of going into the military seemed like a boring thing to do........a passing thought at best. The military was just not on the agenda when I was 18.

So today I want to give credit and thanks to those folks who, for whatever reason, will make the decision today or tomorrow to volunteer to serve in our national forces. These are troubling times across the globe and it takes courage to enlist and allow your life to be completely guided by someone elses plan and agenda.